This article places the experiences of the Active Citizenship in Central America project, led by Dublin City University, within wider discussions on the role of civil society in building democracy and furthering development. The article examines project development and content and assesses its effectiveness, using a framework derived from Nancy Fraser’s (1993) concept of ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ publics. It finds that the project oscillates between these positions, and it makes policy recommendations to help to move it closer to a ‘strong publics’ conception. It ends by asserting that in the current conjuncture a ‘strong publics’ conception is a useful guiding principle for the design of development projects to strengthen civil society.
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